Future forms: 'will', 'be going to' and present continuous

Future forms: 'will', 'be going to' and present continuous

Do you know how to talk about future plans using will, going to and the present continuous? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see how will, going to and the present continuous are used.

Oh great! That meeting after work's been cancelled. I'll go to that yoga class instead. 
I'm going to try to visit my relatives in Australia this year.
The restaurant is reserved for 8. We're having a drink at Beale's first.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Future plans: Grammar test 1

Grammar explanation

We use different verb forms to talk about our plans for the future, depending on what kind of plan it is: a spontaneous plan, a pre-decided plan or an arrangement. 

will

We use will to talk about spontaneous plans decided at the moment of speaking.

Oops, I forgot to phone Mum! I'll do it after dinner. 
I can't decide what to wear tonight. I know! I'll wear my green shirt.
There's no milk. I'll buy some when I go to the shops.

going to

We use going to to talk about plans decided before the moment of speaking.

I'm going to phone Mum after dinner. I told her I'd call at 8 o'clock.
I'm going to wear my black dress tonight. 
I'm going to go to the supermarket after work. What do we need? 

Present continuous

We usually use the present continuous when the plan is an arrangement – already confirmed with at least one other person and we know the time and place.

I'm meeting Jane at 8 o'clock on Saturday. 
We're having a party next Saturday. Would you like to come?

We often use the present continuous to ask about people's future plans.

Are you doing anything interesting this weekend?

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Future plans: Grammar test 2

Language level

Average: 4.1 (98 votes)
Hi Kirk Thanks for the response Best wishes Andi
Hi Kirk But at 3 I hope I think I expect is usually followed by “ will “ which expresses predictions why your choice was the going to form?
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Sat, 10/04/2021 - 15:30

In reply to by Tony1980

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Hello Andi,

The beginning of the sentences you asked about establishes a different context. 'Tomorrow is the day I've decided' makes it sound as if you're making a plan now for a future time. 'going to' is the most typical form we use to speak about plans.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk I’ve just came across the correct answers of the paragraph I have mentioned above and they are as follows: in all the three cases present continues is incorrect and two others are correct . I want to leave out the going to form from your focus. I need you to explain please why in all three cases present continues is incorrect and will is correct. Sorry for going this over again but I’m not fully clear about this. Best wishes Andi
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Sat, 17/04/2021 - 16:21

In reply to by Tony1980

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Hello Andi,

In all three cases, the speaker seems to be speaking about a decision they've made just now. We use the present continuous to speak about plans that have already been arranged, which is incompatible with plans that we've decided just now.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk Thanks for the response concerning future plans . Really appreciate it. Can you help me please over this paragraph. That means finding accessories to set them off and making decisions about the model’s hair. In this paragraph Finding and making are present participle or gerund ? And why please? Sorry for asking this question in this section but I couldn’t find the relevant section Best wishes Andi
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Submitted by Kirk Moore on Thu, 22/04/2021 - 09:07

In reply to by Tony1980

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Hello Andi,

I'm afraid it's difficult to say for sure without knowing the context for this sentence. I don't understand what 'that' refers to here.

By the way, the best page for this question is our '-ing' forms page. If you want to ask us about it again, could you please repost it there with more context?

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by wasan0909 on Mon, 29/03/2021 - 14:04

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she is going to work next week we will have dinner later this day we are about to leave the mall the doctor is to announce the result I would be 18 by march he will have been worked for 13 months I leave at Monday

Submitted by FirasAkkad on Wed, 24/02/2021 - 16:35

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Hello, Would you please explain why we have used " going to: in the exercise sentence "What are you going to do when you finish university?". I am confused as it looks to me as we are asking for a person's future plan, and we have to use present continuous. Thanks.
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Submitted by Jonathan R on Thu, 25/02/2021 - 14:09

In reply to by FirasAkkad

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Hi FirasAkkad,

Using the present continuous is possible too: What are you doing when you finish university? This means that the plans are more arranged and confirmed.

But often, we can't assume that a person's plans are arranged and confirmed, so it might be better to ask a more general question using going to. Going to asks about what the person intends to do or has decided to do (not only about arranged and confirmed plans).

Does that make sense?

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team